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Demand outlook for new iPads weak

Apple has recently released its new iPad Air and iPad mini, but sources from the upstream supply chain have pointed out that the new tablets' shipments are unlikely to pick up until the second-quarter 2018.

For 2019, Apple has released multiple versions of iPads covering various price segments. Apple's iPad Pro series is meant for the high-end segment, the new 10.5-inch iPad Air and 7.9-inch iPad mini for the mid-range, and the inexpensive 9.7-inch iPad for the entry-level.

However, since the tablet market has a rather weak replacement rate, Apple's new iPads are unlikely to significantly stimulate demand.

The saturated tablet market saw worldwide shipments reach 140-150 million units in 2018, down 4.3% on year.

Currently, China-based O-film Tech, which has been in iPad's supply chain since 2017, is supplying 30% of iPads' touch modules while Taiwan-based GiS is supplying around 40% and TPK Holding 30%.

But O-film reportedly is looking to reduce its capex for touch module development in 2019 and shift resources mainly to R&D in optical-related applications because of financial pressure. The sources believes O-film will be able to handle the pressure with Chinese government support, but the company may no longer be as aggressive about LCD touch module orders for new iPads, as margin for LCD touch screen have been dropping due to price competitions.

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